Mudpelt's barely concealed energy left him galloping right behind Ripplestar, ahead of the other horses. Ripplestar was leading Mistyfur, Frogleg, Fishleap, Toadnose, Beaversplash, and himself on a battle patrol. They were heading towards Fourstones, where they would meet SwiftHerd's horses and invade TreeHerd territory.
They deserve it, Mudpelt thought furiously. After all, it was WaterHerd who'd been invaded for no reason. Birchstar shouldn't have made such a big deal out of WaterHerd taking a tiny bit of TreeHerd's grass.
The patrol reached Fourstones and slowed to a trot. They trotted to the TreeHerd border and stopped. Mudpelt thought he saw a flash of brown, but it was nearly impossible to see in the dense trees.
Mudpelt started pacing when SwiftHerd didn't come right away. The other WaterHerd horses were anxious too, pawing the ground or flicking their ears back. Even Ripplestar started looking uneasy when SwiftHerd still didn't come after what felt like moons of waiting.
Finally, Blossomstar trotted up to them, leading a patrol of seven SwiftHerd warriors.
Ripplestar stepped up to Blossomstar. "We thought you weren't coming."
"We scented TreeHerd in our territory and had to investigate. It was only one horse, though we don't know why they were there," Blossomstar explained.
"Are you ready?" Ripplestar asked.
"Of course," Blossomstar replied.
The two leaders led their horses to the border with TreeHerd. They stepped into the trees, and stopped. Mudpelt saw to his surprise a long row of TreeHerd and StoneHerd warriors waiting for them. Ripplestar and Blossomstar faced off with Birchstar and Icestar.
Suddenly, Mistyfur ran between the leaders. "Stop!"
Mudpelt was shocked. What was Mistyfur doing?
Ripplestar looked furious. "What is the meaning of this, Mistyfur?"
"This battle is wrong. Our stealing from TreeHerd was wrong, whatever they did to us," Mistyfur neighed.
Mudpelt pinned his ears. How could Mistyfur defy Ripplestar like that, and in front of the other Herds!
Beaversplash trotted out of his place in line and stood next to Mistyfur.
"Mistyfur's right," he neighed.
Fishleap bounded up to them, glaring fiercely at the other Herds. "I support Mistyfur no matter what."
Mudpelt shook his head angrily. His sister and his mate were betraying their Herd!
Goosefeather was quick to follow Fishleap. "Listen to what she says."
Mudpelt, Frogleg, and Toadnose stood together behind Ripplestar. Toadnose looked confused and Frogleg looked angry.
"Swanwings had a dream that StarHerd doesn't want this," Mistyfur neighed.
The SwiftHerd horses started whispering to each other when they heard this.
"Swanwings didn't want this battle to happen?" Blossomstar asked.
"Yes," Mistyfur replied.
Blossomstar turned to quickly consult Rabbitpelt, her deputy. Then she turned to Ripplestar.
"I'm sorry, Ripplestar, but part of the reason I agreed to fight with you was our debt to Swanwings. If she does not support this battle, then my warriors will not fight," Blossomstar neighed.
Ripplestar looked on in shock as Blossomstar turned and led her warriors away.
"Wait! Come back! You agreed to fight!" Ripplestar neighed furiously.
Blossomstar ignored her, and the SwiftHerd warriors trotted into their territory.
Ripplestar saw she couldn't fight with only three warriors. "Fine. Let's go."
Ripplestar turned to leave, with Mistyfur following her. Mudpelt felt like a coward turning his back on the enemy. TreeHerd and StoneHerd jeered at them as they walked away. He was angry that his loved ones had betrayed him. How could they do this to me? he thought angrily.